Friday, September 25, 2009

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Published in 2008. 312 pages.
With illustrations by Dave McKean.
2009 Newbery Medal.
2009 Hugo Award for Best Novel.
2008 Cybils Winner.

I adored this Newbery Award winner! I will admit I was a little worried that it would be too "creepy" for my taste - but I was hooked from the first page. The following quote from the Newbery website sums it up well:

A delicious mix of murder, fantasy, humor and human longing, the tale of Nobody Owens is told in magical, haunting prose. A child marked for death by an ancient league of assassins escapes into an abandoned graveyard, where he is reared and protected by its spirit denizens.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Falling Into Reading

September 22 through December 20
Hosted by Katrina at Callapiddar Days

Here's my list - an eclectic mix of thirteen books of fiction that have caught my eye in recent months - one book for each week of the challenge:

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
    by Sherman Alexie

  • Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner

  • Best Intentions by Emily Listfield

  • The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand

  • Don't Tell a Soul by David Rosenfelt

  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

  • Just Take My Heart by Mary Higgins Clark

  • Kissing Games of the World by Sandi Kahn Shelton

  • The Real Real by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus

  • Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer

  • Testimony by Anita Shreve

  • Unwind by Neal Shusterman

  • When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The 2010 Countdown Challenge

Hosted by Michelle (3M)
from 9/9/09 to 10/10/10

I enjoyed the first version of this challenge so much that I'm signing up for another year! The point of the challenge is to read the number of books first published in a given year that corresponds to the last digit of each year in the 2000s — 10 books from 2010, 9 books from 2009, etc. The total number of books required, therefore, is 55. (That's 10 more books - obviously - than last time, but I'm hopeful that I can still be successful.) I will fill in my books as I read them.

  1. Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian
  2. Nocturne by Harrison Gradwell Slater
  3. Calamity Jack by Shannon and Dean Hale
  4. House Rules by Jodi Picoult
  5. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner
    by Stephenie Meyer
  6. Resistance, Book 1
    by Carla Jablonski & Leland Purvis
  7. The Golden Spiral by Lisa Mangum
  8. Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
  9. Every Last One by Anna Quindlen
  10. The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy

  1. Execution Dock by Anne Perry
  2. Just Take My Heart by Mary Higgins Clark
  3. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
  4. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  5. The Treasure Map of Boys
    by E. Lockhart
  6. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
  7. The Real Real by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus
  8. Best Intentions by Emily Listfield
  9. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

  1. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  2. Kissing Games of the World by Sandi Kahn Shelton
  3. Testimony by Anita Shreve
  4. Fashion Kitty and the Unlikely Hero
    by Charise Mericle Harper
  5. Don't Tell a Soul by David Rosenfelt
  6. Introvert Power by Laurie Helgoe
  7. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
  8. The Disreptuable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
    by E. Lockhart

  1. Unwind by Neal Shusterman
  2. Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature
    by Robin Brande
  3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
    by Sherman Alexie
  4. Blue Heaven by C.J. Box
  5. A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban
  6. In Search of Mockingbird by Loretta Ellsworth
  7. This Is What I Did by Ann Dee Ellis

  1. Rules by Cynthia Lord
  2. Half-Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer
  3. The Alchemist's Daughter by Katharine McMahon
  4. Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst
  5. Fly On the Wall by E. Lockhart
  6. I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron
    (Finished 10/12/10.)

  1. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
    by Jonathan Safran Foer
  2. Peeps by Scott Westerfeld
  3. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
  4. Any Bitter Thing by Monica Wood (Finished 10/15/10.)

  1. Worth by A. Lafaye
  2. Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
  3. Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt
  4. Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

  1. Blankets by Craig Thompson
  2. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
  3. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchett

  1. Loser by Jerry Spinelli
  2. I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

  1. Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen

Execution Dock by Anne Perry

Published in 2009. 306 pages.

Execution Dock is the sixteenth novel in Anne Perry's historical mystery series featuring William Monk and Hester Latterly. I am a big fan of this series, and this episode did not disappoint.

One of the things I like about Perry's work is her use of words. Here are two passages from Execution Dock that I particularly liked:

He must never let Tremayne see any weakness. Tremayne might look like a dandy, a poet and dreamer caught by chance in the wrong place, but it was an illusion. His mind was keen as a razor, and he would scent weakness as a shark scents blood in the water. [page 35]

All the love in the world did not blind Scuff to the reality that they could fail again. He was a child with hope, optimism, and a lifetime's knowledge of failure behind him. The difference between surviving and not was wafer-thin. [page 296]


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Countdown Challenge

Final Post: September 9. (45 of 45 books completed.)
Updated Post: June 13. (35 of 45 books completed.)
Original Post: December 28. (17 of 45 books completed.)

Hosted by Michelle (3M)
from 8/8/08 to 9/9/09
Yes, retroactive to August 8th!

The point of the challenge is to read the number of books first published in a given year that corresponds to the last digit of each year in the 2000s — 9 books from 2009, 8 books from 2008, etc. The total number of books required, therefore, is 45.

I filled in my books as I read them, and I finished the challenge today - right at the deadline. Thanks to Michelle (3M) for hosting this unique challenge. I had a lot of fun - and I'm ready to sign up for the 2010 version, which starts today (9/9/09) and runs through 10/10/10!

  1. The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
  2. The Associate by John Grisham
  3. North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
  4. Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult
  5. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
  6. The Eternal Smile: Three Stories by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim
  7. True Detectives by Jonathan Kellerman
  8. Always Looking Up by Michael J. Fox (Review forthcoming.)
  9. Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich

  1. Where Are You Now? by Mary Higgins Clark
  2. Mermaids in the Basement by Michael Lee West
  3. Bronte's Book Club by Kristiana Gregory
  4. Janes in Love by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg
  5. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  6. Compulsion by Jonathan Kellerman
  7. Cross Country by James Patterson
  8. Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and Nathan Hale

  1. Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers
  2. The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman
  3. The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg
  4. Violet on the Runway by Melissa Walker
  5. Teach with Your Heart by Erin Gruwell
  6. The Quickie by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  7. Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott

  1. Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
  2. Wait for Me by An Na
  3. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  4. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
  5. Pigboy by Vicki Grant
  6. The Boy Book by E. Lockhart

  1. The Rhyming Season by Edward Averett
  2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  3. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  4. I, Coriander by Sally Gardner
  5. The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart

  1. In the Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith
  2. Something Borrowed by Emily Griffin
  3. Ship Sooner by Mary Sullivan
  4. Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton

  1. The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
  2. The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith
  3. The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde

  1. Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks
  2. Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

  1. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton

Published in 2004. 267 pages.

A big fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation in the late '80s and early '90s, I was intrigued earlier this year when I discovered that Wil Wheaton (aka Wesley Crusher) has a popular website and has published some books. Since I needed a book published in 2004 to complete The Countdown Challenge, I decided now was the time to check out Just a Geek.

I found Wheaton's writing to be irreverent and funny as well as insightful and poignant, and I look forward to reading more of his work!


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Ship Sooner by Mary Sullivan

Published in 2004. 274 pages.

I picked this book up several years ago at a public library surplus sale. I read it this week because I needed another book published in 2004 - preferably one that wasn't too long - for The Countdown Challenge.

I didn't totally love Ship Sooner while I was reading, but as I've thought about in the twenty-four hours or so since I finished it, I've come to appreciate it more. It's not a "comfortable" book - but I think the juxtaposition of a 13-year-old girl who literally hears everything and a town filled with people with secrets is brilliant. The novel is also beautifully written.

In some ways, Ship Sooner reminded me of Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio, which I read with my book club in my pre-book blogging days. There is a Reading Guide for Ship Sooner here.


Saturday, September 05, 2009

Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich

Published in 2009. 308 pages.

This latest adventure of Stephanie Plum was complete silliness. Just what I needed the week in July that I read it!


Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Published in 2004. 322 pages.

I don't read a lot of "chick lit," but I had put this one on my to-read list quite some time ago, partly on the strength of Joy's review. Since I need a few books published in 2004 to finish The Countdown Challenge, I recently picked up Something Borrowed at the library.

Just what I needed after several long days at the office, I read almost the whole thing in one day, as it is a quick and compelling read. I found the main character Rachel White likable and her voice real. I will likely pick up the sequel Something Blue - which I understand is told from viewpoint of Rachel's less likable friend, Darcy Rhone - in the not-too-distant future.

Giffin's website has a Reading Group Guide for Something Borrowed.


The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde

Published in 2003. 373 pages.

This third in the Thursday Next series was different from the previous two installments - but it was just as creative and fun. I'm amazed and impressed by the way Fforde's mind works!


Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Published in 2008. 422 pages.

This was the third of Dessen's books that I've read. (I recently finished my fourth, Keeping the Moon, as well, and I've also started That Summer.)

I really liked Lock and Key. I'd heard someone say that the ending was disappointing, so I was expecting that - but I thought the the ending was terrific. It gives hope for the future, but uncertainty too - so we can imagine it in a lot of different ways (or Dessen can write about it, which I would love).

I like Dessen's writing style, especially that it's easy to read. She doesn't avoid difficult topics, but she isn't in-your-face about them. I like the symbolism and metaphors.

Check out some additional information about Lock and Key on Dessen's website.


Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

Published in 2002. 399 pages.

The second installment of the Thursday Next series, I liked this one even better than The Eyre Affair. I'm definitely hooked on this quirky series!